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Title contender Australia, defending champion Belgium make it to Semis

Interestingly, both the losers came through to the quarter finals of the Hockey world Cup after winning shootouts in their cross over matches.

Harpal Singh Bedi | Bhubaneswar |

Three-time winners Australia survived a mighty scare before scrapping past Spain 4-3 while defending champion Belgium put it across New Zealand 2-0 to move into the semi-finals of the Hockey world here tonight.

Interestingly both the losers came through to the quarter finals after winning shoot outs in their cross over matches.

Belgium played to their strength with a tenacious defence and swift turn over. The red Lions, who have the most collectively capped players in the tournament, controlled the mid field and used open spaces to penetrate into the Kiwis striking circle.

Belgium took the lead in the 10thh minute through Tom Boon who converted a penalty corner (1-0) and five minutes later Florent Van Aubel made it 2-0 for the winners.

The Kiwis tried their best to score but their forwards could not make use of the few chances that came their way. They however did well by not allowing their rivals to score more goals.

Earlier in a match, full of twists and turns, Spain took an unexpected 2-0 lead in a space of four minutes of second quarter but a four-goal blitz in seven minutes enabled Australia to wrest the initiative which they held onto it till the end.

The outcome of this match may have been different if Spain had not muffed up two golden opportunities- an open goal in the second quarter and a penalty stroke in the dying minutes of the game.

For the winners who trailed 1-2 at half time the goal scorers were Jeremy Hayward (2) Flynn Ogilvie and Aran Zalewski (one each)   for the losers , Marc Miralles(2) Gispert Xavier(one) scored. ,

Australian commenced the match with their usual flair attacking their rival citadel from the start. Their incisive moves earned them   a penalty corner in the 3rd minute   but   Blake Govers   powerful drag flick was palmed away by goalkeeper Adrian Rafi.

The Aussies forced two more penalty corners in the next 11 minutes but again Adrian Rafi blocked Jeremy Hayward and then Blake Govers’s efforts.

Against the run of play, the Red Sticks rattled the Aussies as striker Xavier Gispert intercepted a ball near the circle, dribbled past a defender and slammed home to give his side the unexpected 1-0 lead. This happened in the 19th minute.

The former champions were in for more shock as four minutes later Spain made another counter attack and Marc Recasens received a ball near the circle and deflected it home (2-0) and that   left Aussies bewildered.

Couple of minutes later Spain should have been up 3-0 but   Borja Lacalle  missed to deflect the ball into the empty goal as the Australian Goalkeeper had charged out.

However , a minute before the half time Aussies reduced the margin with Flynn Ogilvie  scoring a superb goal following a fierce counter move (1-2)

The match took a dramatic turn when Australians pumped in three goals in the space of the first five minutes of the second half (four goals in seven minutes).

It was captain Aran Xalewski who scored the equaliser in the 31st minute (2-2) before the Spanish defence could settle down after the lemon break.

Then the Kookaburras earned two more penalty corners in the 32 and 36th minutes   and   Jeremy Hayward made amends of his earlier failures by converting both of them to give his side 4-2 lead.

The Red sticks countered and earned two quick penalty corners but could not make use of them. They however, kept up the pressure and earned their third penalty corner in the 40th minute and this time Marc Miralles converted to make it 3-4.

Four minutes before the final hooter Spain had a golden chance to draw parity as they were awarded a stroke but Miiralles’s strong push to the left corner was saved by goalkeeper Andrew Charter.